Sunday, September 21, 2014

From 1982: William Shatner peddles Commodore's VIC-20

Roughly 991 days ago, I had a post featuring advertisements and other goodies from the March 1982 issue of Creative Computing magazine. One of the advertisements was for Commodore's VIC-20, which was available to fledgling computer geeks for $299.95.

The March 1982 advertisement had featured a lovely rainbow.

That apparently wasn't enough to motivate the geeks to buy.

It was time to bring out the heavy artillery.

It was time for Shatner.

The May 1982 VIC-20 advertisement features William Shatner, aka James Tiberius Kirk, Thomas Jefferson Hooker, airline passenger Robert Wilson and that guy named Rack who comes to a bad end in Kingdom of the Spiders.1

Shatner is quoted as stating the following about the VIC-20: "The wonder computer of the 1980s. Under $300." (Whether he actually uttered those words is another question.) It's also possible that this part of the advertisement can be attributed to Shatner, as it also appears in quotation marks: "The best computer value in the world today. The only computer you'll need for years to come."

Commodore also ups the ante by showing some of the games and applications that run on the VIC-20, including:
  • Vic Super Alien
  • Sargon II Chess
  • Draw Poker
  • Personal Finance I and II
  • Midnight Drive/Road Race
  • Radar Ratrace
  • Casino-style Blackjack
  • Spacemath
  • Jupiter Lander
  • Superslot
  • Vic Avenger
  • Biorhythm Compatability
  • Blue Meanies From Outer Space

Those all sound nice. But it was obviously Shatner who was the big draw here. I'm surprised, in a way, that his photograph isn't featured more prominently in the advertisement. This was published just before Shatner's new movie, a little something called Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, hit theaters on June 4, 1982. It was a very Star Trek summer. And it was a watershed time for home-computer users. The VIC-20 is still discussed every day at, among other places, a forum on a website called VIC-20 Denial.

1. William Shatner was also recently featured in perhaps the Greatest Selfie Of All-Time, this gem posted on Twitter by actor LeVar Burton on August 24.

Shatner, 83, is himself very active on Twitter. His @WilliamShatner account has more than 21,000 tweets. Former co-worker Lyzz Jones and I were fortunate to take part in a short conversation about boy bands with him back in August 2013. (Yes, you read that correctly.)

Postcard: Cheese-making illustration by Cornelis Jetses

A lot of great postcards have come in the door via Postcrossing here at Ashland Castle in the past week. One of my favorites is this card, which comes from Antje in Oosterwolde, Netherlands. She writes:
"This postcard gives a romantized [sic] image of people (family). They are making cheese at home about 100 years ago. The illustrator is Cornelis Jetses, very well known in the Netherlands."
Jetses lived from 1873 until 1955. Many of his best-known illustrations were for textbooks. He also designed book covers. This Dutch-language website by Dirk Sellis (which you can have Google translate) contains extensive material about Jetses' life and works.

Related posts about cheese

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Farmers, this is what happens when you leave pigs and goats unattended

This amusing illustration (almost certainly from the 19th century) was done by Palmer Cox (1840-1924), a Canadian artist and author who was best known for his series of works featuring The Brownies, a cute gang of creatures based on Scottish folklore.1 Cox lived in Granby, Quebec, in a sprawling residence called Brownie Castle. You can read more about his former home on Enchanted America, and you can read an excellent article about his Brownie Empire in this 2011 Winterthur Museum blog post by Jeanne Solensky.

There's a poem that accompanies the above illustration. It's not clear whether Cox wrote the poem, too.

See-saw, goat and pig,
On the ladder, what a rig!
Now the goats are in the air,
Sonny the piggy will be there.

Who can wonder when they see
Such a smile upon the three,
That the boys and girls should stay
On the tilter half the day?

1. Coincidentally, yesterday's post featured five vintage postcards from Scotland.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Dust jacket from "Farm on Fifth Avenue" is too cool not to share

I'm guessing that not too many folks stumble across this slim volume from 1951 anymore. It's called Farm on Fifth Avenue and it's by Elisabeth Naramore. The subtitle is "A collection of figures from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, depicting Farm Folk, Barnyard Animals, and Wild Creatures of Field and Stream."

What obviously stopped me when I came across this book was the vibrant and detailed illustration on the dust jacket. Naramore describes it thusly: "The cover is the reproduction of a needlework picture in the Collection of Judge Irwin Untermyer and is used with his permission. It was made in England during the eighteenth century. We like to think it was the Lady of the Manor who stitched these rural scenes and loved them well."

There are all sorts of wonderful details within the bucolic scene. What's your favorite part?

Untermyer, by the way, lived from 1886 to 1973. According to this biography:
"He was a well-known collector of European decorative art. A number of books have been written about his collections of English furniture, porcelain, textiles and silver, including English Furniture With Some Furniture of Other Countries in the Irwin Untermyer Collection, by Yvonne Hackenbroch (1958). His silver collection was bequeathed to the Metropolitan Museum of Art."
Naramore's book is filled with pictures and short descriptions of all sorts of figurines and assorted knickknacks, including a Japanese praying mantis incense burner, prancing goats from Mycenae, hedgehog oil jugs, and clay baby rattles in the form of a pig.

It's an interesting book to browse through. But if you seek out a copy, make sure it has the dust jacket!